Known only recently to be seriously ill, Ken Staninger, an NFL agent who began his successful agency in his hometown of Missoula over 30 years ago, died of cancer Saturday. He was 63 years old.
Staninger’s wife, Mary, confirmed the news Saturday evening. Diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in August, Staninger passed away surrounded by his family at 6:42 p.m.
“We wanted to keep it quiet,” Mary Staninger said of his illness. “We wanted to let his players get through the season before telling them.
“And he thought he was going to beat it. He had such a positive attitude that he thought he was going to beat it.”
If Ken Staninger sought to avoid attention he nonetheless found plenty of support. Many of his NFL clients, including Mark Rypien, were able to get to Missoula to say their goodbyes.
“It was beautiful,” Mary said. “We were struggling, and having such a hard time, and Ken was struggling. But his friends came to say goodbye, and all his relatives came.”
Rypien, perhaps Staninger’s most high-profile client, was among those many friends. The former Washington State standout signed a large contract after his standout 1991 season that culminated in him being Super Bowl MVP.
That was Super Bowl XXVI, which Washington won 37-24 over Buffalo on Jan. 26, 1992; Staninger passed away 21 years later to the day.
Many other players made the trip to Missoula, including Brent Pease, the Griz quarterback who is offensive coordinator for the Florida Gators; Dave Dickenson, the Griz and CFL great who is the OC for the Calgary Stampeders; and Dan Carpenter, the Griz and Miami Dolphins kicker who made the NFL Pro Bowl in 2010.
“It was very sad, but very rewarding,” Mary said. “And Ken didn’t think he had that many friends. But all his friends had rallied around him and came to see him.”
Staninger was born on May 15, 1949, in Missoula.
A standout athlete whose college football career was ended by a motorcycle accident, he became a successful real-estate broker in Missoula.
Staninger started what is now called Stinger Sports Group by signing Griz center Guy Bingham, who played 14 years in the NFL.
Besides Mary, he is survived but their sons Brett and Rick, who both live in Renton, Wash., and Ryan, who lives in Portland, Ore. Mary noted that Brett and his wife just had their first son recently.
Ken Staninger also has a sister, Judy Staninger-Gurnsey, in Great Falls, and nephew Josh in Bozeman.
He is also survived by the many players he represented, like Jake Scott, an offensive lineman who won a Super Bowl with the 2006 Indianapolis Colts.
The Staningers went to that game as well as the one in which Rypien starred.
“We went to a lot of NFL games,” Mary Staninger said. “It was a fun time.”